Twelve tips for twitter newbies

Several of MarketingMel’s clients are new to twitter and lots of people ask me questions about the best ways to use twitter. Since I’ve been active on twitter since September 2008 and score close to a 99 on the independent Hubspot twitter grader I thought I would share some things I’ve learned in the twitterverse that may help you.

  1. Fill out your profile. Be sure to describe yourself, your work and/or your passions in your profile. When others view you and decide whether or not to follow you, that is the first place they will look. If there’s nothing there they may not follow you back. Furthermore, a profile helps determine if indeed there is someone you clearly do NOT want to have following you!  Then you can block them if necessary (I’ve only had to do this a hand full of times.)
  2. Use a nice photo or likeness of yourself. People relate to people as human beings and like to look at pictures of one another. It helps in relationship building as well as in building your personal brand.
  3. Follow people who have similar interests to yours: For me that’s professional marketing and public relations people and social media gurus. What are your interests?  Find the people who share them.
  4. Shhh, listen! As in all social media, listen first, then participate in the local conversation. It is possible to talk too much on twitter. I just recently removed someone from my local feed for “clogging up” my twitter airwaves.
  5. Share, share, share. Twitter is all about being helpful and friendly to others. It’s about relationship building. Share pertinent information and links. I have found that the good twitter karma always comes around.
  6. Never auto DM anyone! If you want to DM (direct message) someone be sure it is a genuine, heartfelt message. Please skip the canned spam!
  7. Use to follow trends. This is a really handy search that keeps me up on “the news” often before the traditional media has caught on.
  8. #Use hashtags Hashtags are a great way to keep up with conferences, topics and trends or start a trend yourself. On Fridays you will see people using the hashtag #followfriday of #FF. They will post the twitter names of interesting people who they enjoy following so that you can  follow them. It’s one more part of the positive twitter karma.
  9. Find twitter chat groups of interest and participate. My two favorites are #soloPR Wednesdays at 1 pm Eastern and, when I can make it, #journchat Mondays at 8 pm Eastern. Check those or others out in your field of interest.
  10. Do not lock your updates. Locking is something done only by the greenest of twitter newbies
  11. Use twitter tools: There are all kinds of great tools available to help you manage your time and your tweets. Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are two of my favorites.
  12. Feel free to respond to someone directly with an @ message. Remember, though, everyone is listening! Twitter is a lot like cubicle walls; super thin and everything next door can and will be heard and shared by all. At least with twitter you don’t have to share colds and flu too!

Hope this helps you and happy tweeting!


  • Jeff Brunson says:

    Thanks for the tips Mel. I was reminded of how I need to share more resources with my followers!

  • Sue Painter says:

    Great tips for newbies, and great reminders for “old” Tweeters, too!

  • Sarah Williams says:

    Mel, I still need to jump on the Twitter-train! Your wonderful tips will give me the confidence to do so successfully! Thanks!

    • maryellen says:

      Sarah, because you are a natural communicator and you listen well, you will do well on twitter. Thanks for being my star intern!

  • Great tips, Mel. A newbie can stick out like a sore thumb on Twitter, and it can be quite intimidating to get started. You make it much easier to jump in and have fun.

    • maryellen says:

      Thanks Kristina. Of all of the tips for newbies, listening first and then speaking is probably the most useful. That way the stream of twitter isn’t quite so overwhelming!

  • Mary Reynolds says:

    Great job. I am reminded again how important it is to keep up with the social networking community.

  • Thanks so much for sharing these tips. I’ve been on Twitter since September of 2008, too, but I could still use some tips. I especially appreciate the tip about DM spam–I got so much of it, I stopped reading them.

    • maryellen says:

      Thanks Tiffany. Quite a long time ago I put one of those anti-DM devices on my twitter. Now the only DM’s I get are the ones that aren’t automated. You’d be surprised…people still can be obnoxious with those….there’s just a lot less of it. Happy tweeting and glad to connect with you!

  • Linda Pucci says:

    These are GREAT tips, Mary Ellen! This is inspiring me to go back and look at my “long-ago established” profiles on Twitter, FB and Linked In as well a a couple of other organizational social networking sites. I hadn’t even thought about the profile being a way to attract new friends. DUH. Sometimes the most obvious escapes us…

    • maryellen says:

      Thanks so much Linda. Yes, the profile is *definitely* a way to attract people to you! Glad to be of help.

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